A brother and sister learn their idyllic new neighborhood holds some nightmarish secrets.
At first glance, Carter and Polly's new home—the eerily named Alabaster Shadows subdivision—is another blandly charming suburb with rows of identical houses. However, as soon as they arrive, the siblings immediately sense that something isn't quite right. The town is governed by a community council led by a stony-faced, bespectacled woman named Miss Crowe, who obviously disdains all children. At school, things aren't much better; their teacher, Ms. Frump, shares Miss Crowe's menacing sentiments. Things soon go from bad to sinister: the kids discover a mysterious portal that’s leaking liquid in their basement, stumble upon a bizarre dream world only accessible while sleeping, befriend other kids terrorized by monsters under their beds, and learn that adults who ask too many questions are becoming zombified. The children quickly band together and fight the influx of monsters that have seemingly overrun their town. Gardner and Doucet’s crafty tale provides a blend of hearty exposition, intriguing worldbuilding, and lightning-fast action; in a nice touch, Carter and Polly are biracial—their mom is dark-skinned, and their dad is Caucasian. Bright, cartoon-style illustrations propel readers through this offering and will leave them wishing it were a series opener. Fans of Goosebumps will definitely appreciate the similarly atmospheric feel.
Creepily imagined and entertaining. (Graphic horror. 7-12)